During my training year in Reading Recovery, one of my students’ reading had taken off and I was finally beginning to feel like I was making progress as a Reading Recovery teacher. The writing was still a struggle, but I figured it would come. I can remember reading about the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing, and hoping that my student’s stronger abilities in reading would ‘pull up’ what was missing in writing. I was less sure of myself when we discussed the reading in our professional development group, and had colleagues in to watch me teach a lesson with this student, and they agreed that reading was stronger. The challenge was the timer. Dare I break the three, ten-minute chunk lesson format to dedicate more time to writing? My colleagues and I weren’t sure. We were all new to the game. We called in our teacher leader.
My student’s reading did plateau as these visits were scheduled and occurring. It seems I’d had it backwards. What I needed to do was address the challenges that were appearing when it was time to put thoughts into print. I had to link through my student’s (stronger) reading abilities to do so. We added some time to the writing segment of her lesson for a couple of weeks. I also went into her classroom a few times to ensure she was using her strategies there. That, combined with visuals right at her desk helped her to make the connections she needed to link what she was learning in the Reading Recovery room, one on one, to her classroom, and become increasingly independent.
Visuals matter and discovery moments are magical!
I used to draw and clip little pictures before I had access to all of this great clip art, so many of my past students have less – polished versions of what I am able to use these days! Their personal alphabet books were a valuable tool, particularly early in lessons.
I had mini-posters that I rotated on the bulletin board next to where we worked with magnetic letters. My little students noticed when I changed them, and would get excited to see if they could figure out what clues were hiding in them – a Where’s Waldo effect, of sorts.
I have polished them up with clip art and added them to a number of the Sight-Word-Stages readers, sentence puzzles and fun follow-ups sets. Here are some examples:
There is a reciprocal relationship between reading and writing. A child’s understanding of and skill in reading, and also in writing, have as much to give to each other as they have to gain. Reading cannot be effectively be taught without writing, and writing cannot be effectively taught without reading. What a child learns about stories, the world of print and his relationship to them while reading, he can apply to writing; just as the same lessons and experiences in writing will aid him in reading.
Early readers and writers vary in their ability to make cross-print connections. One child may notice a word in a book that she practiced writing at school the week before, when another may not recognize it at all, for example. This is why it is so important to draw attention to cross-print connections. We need kids to see that reading and writing are essentially two sides of the same coin, rather than two different coins altogether.
Tips for building cross-print connections